Everyone knows smoking is bad for their lungs, but did you know that tobacco use also puts you at much greater risk of developing oral cancer? Oral cancer, or mouth cancer, is when the cells in your mouth mutate and grow, accumulating so much that eventually they form a tumor. Although dentists don’t know the exact cause of the genetic mutation of the cells in your mouth, there are risk factors that increase the chance that you’ll develop this disease.
At Family First Dentistry, the best dental clinic in Anchorage, AK, the dentists are committed to helping their patients not only practice good oral health care habits, but also make the lifestyle changes necessary to reduce their risk of oral cancer.
What Are Oral Cancer Risk Factors?
The biggest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco and alcohol use. According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, 90% of people who are diagnosed with oral cancer consume tobacco. Other risk factors include excessive sun exposure, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and a diet that’s low in fruits and veggies and high in red meat and processed foods. Your risk for oral cancer also increases with age.
What Are the Symptoms?
Common signs of oral cancer include sores that don’t heal, lumps or growths in your mouth or throat, swelling in your jaw, numbness or pain in your mouth, red or white patches on your tongue, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. If you notice any of these symptoms and they persist for at least two weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Many times, these symptoms don’t mean you have cancer, but they could indicate another problem that should be addressed.
The best way to catch and treat oral cancer early is to schedule regular teeth cleanings and checkups with your dentist. During your regular checkups, your dentist will look for signs of any oral health problems, including cancer. If the cancer is caught early enough, treatment is often successful. Schedule an exam with Family First Dentistry today to make sure you are cancer-free. For more information about the best sedation dentistry clinic in Anchorage, visit the Family First Dentistry website or call (907) 562-2820.